Pacific Parliamentary Forum 2019 | NZ Parliament

February 18, 2020

This is the Pacific Parliamentary Forum that the New Zealand Parliament has been involved in running. The idea of the forum is to bring together mainly emerging leaders from around the Pacific. People have been sharing ideas. They’ve been sharing issues. They’ve been getting to know each other, which is going to be very useful for the Pacific going forward. And this will be a lot of help for that.>>My experience with this forum is quite a learning, educational for us MPs from Tokelau, especially for our women to come out to this Pacific forum, taking back to the island issues that we’re going to take into Parliament. It’s been a kete. You know, having a lot of fish hanging back to the Parliament for sharing out new ideas.>>It’s not every day that you get to meet parliamentarians from Tonga or as far north as Guam or as far south as Aotearoa. And so all of the Pacific parliamentarians have different challenges, different stories.>>There’s been a lot of lessons learnt in terms of how does the New Zealand Government appreciate cultures and tradition, especially to the indigenous. Things I enjoyed most was the site visits; the fono, way back in Auckland; the local boards visit.>>The fono, for us, was another eye-opening experience —just realising how much support is being offered to, especially, Pasifika people and how many people who may be marginalised can still afford the same sort of quality of treatment that more affluent members of New Zealand society can. And, here in Wellington, it’s such a privilege to be able to speak in the parliamentary chambers, thanks to the Rt Hon Speaker.>>It’s a rewarding experience. There are some issues like diversity in Parliament and how we proceed.>>The highlight for me is where we all agree that diversity and representation help strengthen the parliaments. When we all come together as one, it makes the Parliament like a rainbow, with different colours that shine out.>>The topic was how the diversity and representation can strengthen parliaments or the functions of parliamentarians. I think I was invited, particularly, because of the gender issue. The Samoan Government has in place legislation to ensure a minimum of 10 percent representation by women.>>With diversity comes unity and also strength that we can articulate and be united with our challenges. And this is a great opportunity to learn from the Pacific Island sisters and brothers so that we can leave a legacy for the future generation.>>Among so many MPs from Pacific Islands, every thought, every idea, is so interesting. We can learn a lot. We can move forward together.>>I’ve learnt a lot, and I’ve met a lot of new people and share the same ideas and values.>>We went to visit the members of Parliament, their constituency offices. And having the opportunity to be here in Parliament itself, to be able to talk to members of Parliament and exchange ideas.>>Currently, we’re in the Waiwhetū Marae, and we’ve had a general debate. It’s a place where I’ve spent a lot of time. The young people from the local school thought it was great. I think, when you have an interlinking of elected representatives from around the Pacific and some of the very bright young people, only good can come.>>This is the first time that any parliament forum has taken place on our marae. It’s exciting for us. The Māori did come from the Pacific, so it’s important in terms of our whakapapa, continuing to share our stories with one another.>>I thought it was important to promote that we all have a role to play in amplifying the voice for the Pacific. I think it’s better for the region.>>As a new MP, and, actually, as a Pacific MP, it’s actually always extra special to have visiting MPs from the Pacific.>>These engagements are incredibly important, not only for New Zealand to be talking about what’s important to us, but hearing what is really important to our friends in the Pacific.>>I hope it’s also given rise to the fact that we don’t take any of us for granted, that we all value who we are, isolated as we are, a long way from the rest of the world as we are. But we realise that each one of us is important in the biggest continent in the world—the blue Pacific.>>It’s been amazing to what we call in Māoridom te whakawhanaungatanga, which is for us to share our experiences, who we are, our values about caring, sharing, and nurturing and creating environments that our young people can thrive in— really is a collective responsibility for all of us, including the preservation of our language and our culture.

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